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LONDON AT TABLE.
The events connected with the Great Exhibition will no doubt be described by the writers of history as amongst the most remarkable in the annals of this nation. Tens of thousands, not only of our country population, but of foreigners, will be attracted to this Monster Cosmopolitan Polytechnic ;—even Stoics will be drawn to the magic scene, in imitation of Socrates, who, when once detected at a great " Fair," excused himself by saying "he only came to see how many things there were in the world lie did not require."
It is to be hoped that, however unfavourably at present the productions of our own artisans may contrast with the gorgeous fabrics of other nations, the morals of the people of England will not be corrupted, but, on the contrary, draw down the market commendation of strangers, and that ultimately the industry and welfare of the country will be promoted.
Perfect as the arrangements appear to be for the reception of the productions of all nations,—" London at Table: how, when, and where to dine, and order a dinner," will perhaps be received by strangers as an acceptable contribution.
It is not necessary, in this enlightened age to denounce the gluttony and licentiousness of the Romans; or, as a warning, to cite the orgies of Tiberius, Apicius, or Lucullus, which foreshadowed the decline and fall of the empire ; while, on the other hand, it is pardonable to hold with the great lexicographer, Dr. Johnson, "that cookery is one of the arts that aggrandise life; and that the masticational duties are those that we ought principally to attend to." Even the Miser, in Moliere, says " you must eat to live, and not live to eat."
The abundant means of living, and of food provided for the use of the human race, is as follows :— "Every herb bearing seed," say the Scriptures, "and every tree which is the fruit of the tree yielding seed, was given to man ;" and to Noah and his sons, the words went forth, "Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you: even as the green herb have I given you all things." But mark well, reader, these abundant gifts were for man's use, and not for man's abuse.
Strangers in London, with money at command to dine when, where, and how it may suit their fancy, can, with perseverance and tact, always gratify their propensities in reason, but those whose palate is their only thought, must be left to the self-inflicted torments which their voluptuousness and selfishness are sure to entail.
In London—how, when, and where to dine—must in a great measure depend on the day's and the evening's amusement. If business require attendance in the city, or pleasure to the Opera or theatre, a spot suitable to the neighbourhood should be selected. If the digestive organs are somewhat impaired, a light French dinner is preferable to a substantial English one; if, on the contrary, a man has been taking strong exercise all day, and has the appetite of a Saxon, our indigenous dishes of beef-steaks and mutton-chops will be duly appreciated, and can be obtained at a moderate price at any of the numerous coffee and chop-houses.
To a party made up in a hurry to go to the theatre, nothing can be better than the " Piazza Coffee House," or " Clunn's Hotel," in Covent Garden ; at the former, the claret is extremely good, while at the latter, the "port " has hitherto been supremely correct.
The stranger cannot go wrong in ordering a clear soup; the freshest fish of the day (for it ought to be an invariable rule never to order any particular fish, but to name what is preferred, leaving it to the fishmonger to send the latest arrival from the sea-side); a plain joint, with a marrow bone, or oyster toast when in season, and no sweets; sherry, port, or claret in keeping.
The " Blue Posts," in Cork Street, is a very snug place during the winter for a dinner of four, in the small private parlour on the ground floor. For fish, a rump steak, and boiled beef, it cannot be surpassed; the wines are good, and the gin-punch perfection. The two coffee-rooms are extremely convenient for parties wishing their dinner in a hurry. The rooms are primitive and characteristic. The joints are artistically carved in the room by the waiter, and not jagged about "dog's meat fashion" by the guests; the port wine is brought up in the "black bottle," by which means the quantity, if not the quality, is supplied. This is honest—provided the bottle is not one of the cheap wine-merchant's bottles, that run sixteen to what twelve fair jurymen's bottles are only intended by act of parliament to hold; that is, where one dozen is charged when the purchaser only receives eight in reality. A conscientious butler never reserves more than one small glass to each bottle; if any there be that do more, they should be discharged for dishonesty, and their characters described accordingly.
"Dolly's Chop House," in St. Paul's Churchyard, for a chop, or steak, or a "cut direct" from the joint, with well-boiled mealy potatoes, is particularly good; and this, with excellent wine, ought to satisfy